Debian Lenny > Etch to Lenny Upgrade

Upgrading Debian GNU/Linux from Etch (4.0) to Lenny (5.0)

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Quick steps

RTFM (Read the Fine Manual) : it contains important information !

Before upgrading to Lenny, make sure you read the paragraph Upgrades from previous releases and also have a look at Issues to be aware of for lenny of the releasenotes.

Notes on /etc/apt/sources.list

Backports is an official repository provided by Debian Developers, which provides newer packages for the stable release, based on a rebuild of the package from the "testing" archive.

The backports repository contains packages from testing, but with reduced version numbers, therefore the upgrade path from etch-backports to lenny is saved. However, there are a few backports only which are made from unstable (security updates and the following exceptions: firefox, kernel,, xorg).

If you do not use one of these exceptions, you can safely upgrade to lenny. If you use one of these exceptions, set the pin-priority (see man apt_preferences) temporarily to 1001 for all packages from lenny, and you should be able to do a safe dist-upgrade too.

For example, the trac package in backports has version


and in lenny


As 0.11.1-2~bpo40+1 < 0.11.1-2.1 (apt considers ~ lower), the backports package will be replaced by the lenny package when you upgrate to lenny.

If you use backports, but does not upgrade to Lenny immediately after Lenny is released, you should disable backports entries in your sources.list, if you don't want to get packages from Squeeze. This can happen because backports are built based on testing, and testing will change from lenny to squeeze as soon as Lenny is released. This issue is discussed in this thread on the debian-isp mailing list. TBD: confirm or infirm this from backports

This behaviour has been confirmed by the backports team in this mail.

Sample sources.list

Here is a typical sources.list as it is configured with Lenny, in case you need a reference:

# Main
deb lenny main contrib non-free
deb-src lenny main contrib non-free

# Security Updates
deb lenny/updates main contrib non-free
deb-src lenny/updates main contrib non-free

# Some systems may have other entries, like the "volatile" service.